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One of the Gnostic Saints listed in Liber XV, The Gnostic Mass

Mosheh or Moses or Móshe (משה "Drawn"), son of Amram and his wife, Jochebed, a Levite. Legendary Hebrew liberator, leader, lawgiver, prophet, and historian. If he is a historical figure, he may have lived between the 18th century BCE and the 13th century BCE.

According to the Hebrew Bible, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. He received the Ten Commandments Of Judaism from God on Mount Sinai. The Torah contains the life story of Moses and his people till his death at the age of 120 years.

Moses's greatest legacy was probably expounding the doctrine of monotheism, which was not widely accepted at the time, codifying it in Jewish religion with the 1st (and most important) Commandment, and punishing polytheists. He is revered as a prophet in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Table of contents

Moses in the Hebrew Bible

The birth of Moses occurred at a time when Pharaoh had commanded that all male children born to Hebrew captives should be killed. Who this pharaoh is the Torah leaves unstated; he is widely believed to be Ramses II though other, earlier pharaohs are proposed including a Hyksos pharaoh or one shortly after the Hyksos had been expelled.

Jochebed, the wife of the Levite Amram, bore a son, and kept him concealed for three months. When she could keep him hidden no longer, rather than deliver him to be killed, she set him adrift on the Nile river in an ark of bulrushes. The daughter of Pharaoh discovered the baby and adopted him as her son, and named him “Moses.”

When Moses was grown to manhood, he went one day to see how it fared with his brethren, bondmen to the Egyptians. Seeing an Egyptian maltreating a Hebrew, he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand, supposing that no one who would be disposed to reveal the matter knew of it. The next day, seeing two Hebrews quarreling, he endeavored to separate them, whereupon the Hebrew who was wronging his brother taunted Moses with slaying the Egyptian. Moses soon discovered from a higher source that the affair was known, and that Pharaoh was likely to put him to death for it; he therefore made his escape to the Sinaitic Peninsula and settled with Hobab, or Jethro, priest of Midian, whose daughter Zipporah he in due time married. There he sojourned forty years, following the occupation of a shepherd, during which time his son Gershom was born (Exodus 2:11-22).

Mission from God

One day, as Moses led his flock to Mount Horeb, he saw a bush burning without being consumed. When he turned aside to look more closely at the marvel, God spoke to him from the bush revealing his name, YHVH, to Moses.

In the time of Emporer Constantine, Mount Horeb was identified with Mount Sinai near the monastery of St. Catherine, but most scholars, especially E. Anati think it was located much farther North.

God also commissioned him to return to Egypt and deliver his brethren from their bondage. He then returned to Egypt (Exodus 4:1-9, 20). Moses was met on his arrival in Egypt by his elder brother, Aaron, and gained a hearing with his oppressed brethren (Exodus 4:27-31). It was a more difficult matter, however, to persuade Pharaoh to let the Hebrews depart. This was not accomplished until God sent ten plagues upon the Egyptians. These plagues culminated in the slaying of the Egyptian first-born (Exodus 12:29), whereupon such terror seized the Egyptians that they ordered the Hebrews to leave.

In the Wilderness

The children of Israel started toward the eastern border at the southern part of the Isthmus of Suez. The long procession moved slowly, and found it necessary to encamp three times before passing the Egyptian frontier, some believe at the Bitter Lakes while others propose as far south as the northern tip of the Red Sea. Meanwhile Pharaoh had a change of heart and was in pursuit of them with a large army (Exodus 14:5-9). Shut in between this army and the Red Sea, the Israelites despaired, but God divided the waters of the sea so that they passed safely across on dry ground. When the Egyptians attempted to follow, God permitted the waters to return upon them and drown them (Exodus 14:10-31).

Moses led the Hebrews to Sinai, or Horeb, where Jethro celebrated their coming by a great sacrifice in the presence of Moses, Aaron, and the elders of Israel (Exodus 18). At Horeb, or Sinai, God welcomed Moses upon the sacred mountain and talked with him face to face (Exodus 19). God gave him two tablets upon which was written the “Ten Commandments”.

Moses and the Israelites sojourned at Sinai about a year (cf. Numbers 10:11), and Moses had frequent communications from God. As a result of these the Tabernacle, according to the last chapters of Exodus, was constructed, the priestly law ordained, the plan of encampment arranged both for the Levites and the non-priestly tribes (cf. Numbers 1:50 - 2:34), and the Tabernacle consecrated.

While at Sinai Joshua had become general of the armies of Israel and the special minister, or assistant, of Moses (Exodus 17:9). From Sinai, Moses led the people to Kadesh, whence the spies were sent to Canaan. Upon the return of the spies the people were so discouraged by their report that they refused to go forward, and were condemned to remain in the wilderness until that generation had passed away.

After the lapse of thirty-eight years, Moses led the people eastward. Having been denied permission to pass through the territory of the Edomites, descendants of Esau (Numbers 20:14 - 21), and through the land of Moab (Numbers 21:4), they detoured around those two kingdoms. But being unable to detour around the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amorites, whose capital was at Heshbon, who also refused permission to travel through his land, Israel conquered him and allotted his territory to the tribes of Reuben and Gad. Og, King of Bashan, was similarly overthrown, and his territory assigned to the half-tribe of Manasseh.

The Death of Moses

After all this was accomplished Moses was warned that he would not be permitted to lead Israel across the Jordan, but would die on the eastern side (Numbers 20:12). He assembled the tribes and delivered to them a parting address. When this was finished, and he had pronounced a blessing upon the people, he went up Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah, looked over the country spread out before him, and died, at the age of one hundred and twenty. God Himself buried him in an unknown grave (Deuteronomy 34).

Moses in Islam

The Arabic version of the name Moses is Musa.

Musa is an important figure in Sura 18 of the Qur'an, a text which occupies a critical liturgical role in Islam. In Sura 18, Moses receives instruction from an unnamed teacher who is blessed with special divine knowledge. Esoteric and folk traditions identify the teacher as Khidr.

Moses in Hermeticism and Western Occultism

Marsilio Ficino and other Renaissance hermeticists represented Hermes Trismegistus as "the Egyptian Moses," and often understood these two to be comparable teachers. Thus, by implication, Moses became "the Hebrew Hermes."

The claim that "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22) eventually led to the interpretation that the laws and customs instituted by Moses for the Hebrews were actually derived from the ancient Egyptian religion. This idea was first put forward by the English Hebraist John Spencer (1630-1693). It was seized upon by eighteenth century deists, and then nineteenth century occultists, as a method of connecting the biblical tradition with ancient pagan wisdom.

Eliphas Levi, the founder of modern occultism, wrote:
Moses dreams of a Promised Land and drags away into the desert a horde of herdsmen and slaves, who murmur, rebel, kill each other and die of hunger and fatigue during forty years. He will never reach Palestine; he will die, lost in the mountain, but his thought will have swept the heavens, and he will bequeath to the world a God, unique, and a universal code; from the shade of Moses, unburied, will issue the immeasurable glory of Jehovah. He created a people and commenced a book; a people, bravely mean in its tenacity, at once superb and servile; a book, full of shadows and lights, of a gradeur and absurdity alike superhuman; this book and this people will withstand all force, all science, all political combinations, and all the criticisms of the nations and the revolving ages. From this book civilization will derive its worship, from this people kings will borrow their treasures, and who now will dare to judge the man of the Red Sea and Mount Horeb? What rationalistic philosopher can think that he was wise? But who, capable of appreciating great things, could dare to call him foolish? (Paradoxes 12)

Moses in Thelema

Aleister Crowley identified Moses as a historical Magus of A.'.A.'., whose word was IHVH. Crowley placed him after Tahuti and before Dionysus, and designated him "that Egyptian Magus whom the Jews Call Mosheh." Moses served as Crowley as an example of "religious genius" in Book Four, and in his treatment of yoga, he explained the Ten Commandments of Moses as a form of yama. Crowley also listed Mosheh as one of The Gnostic Saints.


Large portions of this text were originally taken from: Wikipedia. (2004). Mosheh ( Retrieved Sept. 23, 2004.

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